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How To Run An Effective Meeting

To run an effective meeting, clearly define its purpose, prepare and share an agenda in advance, manage the time wisely, foster open communication, and follow up with a meeting summary including action items and responsibilities.

An effective meeting is a gathering where each participant is clear about the purpose, time is utilized efficiently, and everyone is actively engaged in the discussion or activity at hand. It involves well-defined objectives, a well-prepared and structured agenda and the active participation and collaboration of all attendees.

Communication is clear and succinct, each point is addressed analytically, contingent plans are in place, and the decision-making process is democratic. Post-meeting, the minutes or summary are shared, roles and responsibilities for follow-ups are clearly defined, and the outcomes align with the original goals, leading to a forward momentum in the overarching plan or goal.

Our meeting philosophy

You will find numerous guides on the subject of meetings on our website, including many step-by-step instructions. This guide is a little more detailed, as we want to explain more about the background to efficient meetings. In our view, making inefficient meetings more efficient is a combination of corporate culture, processes and tools. On the one hand, there must be clear rules for meetings for all members of the team, but on the other hand, clear processes for preparing and following up meetings should also be established, and the team must be equipped with the right software tools for this.

Here are our 3 most important principles for more efficient meetings summarized:

1. Cancel meetings without clear objectives

You should always question meetings that do not have a clear objective. It doesn’t matter whether they are one-off appointments or recurring meetings in your calendar. Recurring meetings in particular often have no clear objectives, which makes these meetings drag on forever.

2. Meetings should be prepared

Basically, we divide a meeting into 3 phases: Preparation, execution and follow-up. In most teams, only phase 2, the execution, actually takes place. Before the meeting, each participant must take time to write their agenda items – we recommend a collaborative agenda, i.e. the agenda is not only written by the manager, but by all participants.

3. Meetings should be documented

In most teams, we have found that meetings are not sufficiently documented. This has an impact on the whole culture because there is then no other way to retrieve information from a meeting than to attend the meeting itself. Well-structured meeting notes can be very helpful, for example, you can share them with team members even if they did not attend the meeting. Especially in weekly team meetings, it is often the case that some participants have nothing to contribute and then waste their time.

What is the purpose of an effective meeting?

Unfortunately, inefficient meetings are an everyday occurrence in most companies. Hardly anyone realizes that this results in high opportunity costs for companies. Yet, efficient meetings can be a perfect vehicle for the productivity and output of the entire team.

How To Run An Effective Meeting: Step-By-Step


Step 1: Planning the Meeting

The initial step is vital as it requires you to comprehend the core purpose of the meeting. This involves evaluating whether the meeting is truly necessary, outlining clear goals to achieve, identifying and inviting all essential participants, and selecting a suitable time and location that is convenient and accommodating to all attendees. This preparatory phase sets the stage for a productive and effective meeting.

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Step 2: Send Invitations

Ensure to inform all participants about the meeting sufficiently ahead of time. This should include crucial information like its purpose, date and time, the specific meeting venue, and key discussion points for the meeting (agenda). Distribute this comprehensive information, such as via emails or meeting invites, for attendees to prepare adequately and contribute productively.

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Step 3: Preparation

In order to have a successful meeting, it’s essential to prepare all required materials such as presentations, documents, or any relevant resources beforehand. This includes anything necessary to aid the meeting’s agenda. Additionally, participants should be encouraged to come prepared; they should gather and bring any pertinent inputs or materials. Adequate preparation ensures a smooth and efficient discussion, keeping everyone focused and involved.

ZipDo, our meeting management app, makes team meeting preparations effortless by providing a centralized location for all information from previous meetings. Meeting leads can easily access this data, including agendas and notes, ensuring a well-prepared and comprehensive meeting agenda.


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Step 4: Conduct the Meeting

Beginning punctually is essential, showcasing respect for everyone’s time, and providing consistency. Exercise a fair, firm control over the meeting to ensure each agenda item is comprehensively addressed. Encourage open communication, foster a collaborative environment, invite feedback, and promote equal participation, ensuring all voices and ideas are heard.

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Step 5: Facilitate Participation

Ensure that all viewpoints are acknowledged and evaluated during meetings. Proactively engage quieter individuals to contribute their ideas and implement strategies to moderate those who tend to overpower the discussion. Overall, aiming for balanced participation fosters a more productive and inclusive meeting environment.

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Step 6: Summarize and Clarify

Wrapping up the meeting, it’s crucial to recap the main points discussed and decisions made. This provides clarity and reinforces action items. It also verifies everyone’s understanding, ensuring unified progress post-meeting. Confirm all necessary tasks are allocated, elevating team confidence and productivity.

Learn how to write a meeting summary here.

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Step 7: Assign Action Items

Assign tasks that need completion following the meeting to specific individuals or teams. This contributes to efficiency as everyone knows their role. Ensure each party fully understands their responsibilities. Provide clear instructions and deadlines. Follow up to confirm comprehension and answer any questions they may have.

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Step 8: End the Meeting

Concluding the meeting effectively requires thoughtful action. Begin by summarizing the crucial points discussed then thank participants for their valuable input and time. Following this, provide clear information about when and through what medium the meeting’s minutes will be circulated to ensure everyone remains informed.

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Step 9: Follow-up

Post-meeting, promptly share the meeting minutes- encapsulating decisions and actions mandated- with all attendees and pertinent stakeholders. This promotes transparency and ensures everyone is aligned. Continue to supervise the progression of allocated tasks zealously, tracking every milestone until final completion, to ensure accountability and drive results.

Questions to ask as the leader of the meeting

1. What is the objective of this meeting? – This question helps establish clarity and focus, ensuring that everyone is aware of the meeting’s purpose and what needs to be achieved.

2. Who needs to be present and why? – Asking this question allows the leader to identify the key team members or stakeholders who should attend the meeting based on the agenda and goals.

3. What are the main challenges or obstacles we are facing? – Understanding the challenges enables the leader to address any potential roadblocks, ensuring a productive discussion and brainstorming session to find suitable solutions.

4. What progress has been made since the last meeting? – This question helps to gauge the team’s overall progress and identify any accomplishments or areas that may require additional attention.

5. What are the next steps and who will be responsible for each? – Clarifying the action steps and assigning responsibility ensures accountability and facilitates effective follow-up after the meeting.

6. What resources or support do we need to achieve our goals? – Identifying the necessary resources helps in planning and allocating the required support to ensure the team’s success in achieving the desired outcomes.

7. How can we improve our communication and collaboration moving forward? – Discussing the team’s communication and collaboration helps identify any gaps or issues that need to be addressed, further enhancing productivity and teamwork.

8. Are there any additional suggestions, ideas, or concerns that need to be discussed? – By allowing open and inclusive discussion, this question ensures that all team members have the opportunity to contribute their thoughts, concerns, or suggestions.

9. What are the key takeaways from this meeting? – Summarizing the main points or action items at the end of the meeting reinforces understanding and ensures that everyone is on the same page before concluding the session.

To prepare an effective meeting agenda as a leader, start by clearly defining the objective and desired outcomes of the meeting. Identify the topics that need to be discussed and allocate time slots accordingly. Prioritize the most important items and include any necessary documents or materials. Share the agenda with participants in advance to ensure everyone is prepared and focused during the meeting.

How To Prepare For A Effective Meeting
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During an effective meeting, it is crucial to discuss topics that are directly related to the purpose of the meeting. This may include goal setting, progress updates, problem-solving, decision-making, and resource allocation. Additionally, any urgent matters or new issues that need immediate attention should also be addressed. Open and clear communication is key to ensuring the meeting achieves its objectives efficiently.

See Our Effective Meeting Template
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Software tools to facilitate a Effective Meeting

Software is a vital tool for leaders to facilitate effective meetings. It aids in planning and scheduling, providing pre-meeting materials and agendas to participants. With features like virtual meeting rooms and collaborative platforms, software enables seamless communication, file sharing, and real-time updates, promoting productivity and engagement among team members. Additionally, it streamlines post-meeting tasks by automating minutes and action item tracking, ensuring effective follow-up and accountability.

Our Recommendations:


Running an effective meeting is an essential skill that every leader should master. It is not just about following an agenda, but also about creating a conducive, collaborative environment where everyone feels heard and engaged. Remember to always set clearly defined goals, send out the agenda in advance, respect everyone’s time and encourage participation.

It is vital to ensure that decisions are made, next steps are determined, and responsibilities assigned. By perfecting these strategies, you can run meetings that are productive, successful, and appreciated by all those in attendance. The ultimate goal is to create a culture of communication and respect that fosters collaboration and innovation, and meetings are a perfect platform to cultivate this.

Jannik Lindner

I'm Jannik and I write on MeetingFever about the experiences from my career as a founder and team lead.

If you have any questions, please contact me via LinkedIn.

Popular Questions

What are the key components of an effective meeting?

The key components of an effective meeting include a clear objective or goal, a well-prepared agenda, the right attendees, effective steering by the meeting leader, active participation from all attendees, and a follow-up plan.

How can we ensure an effective meeting?

To ensure an effective meeting, there must be clear communication both before and after the meeting. This includes having a clear and detailed agenda, setting expectations and desired outcomes, promoting active participation, ensuring everyone’s time is respected, and having a plan for follow-up actions.

What is the role of a leader in driving effective meetings?

The leader’s role in driving effective meetings is quite crucial. A leader must set the meeting agenda, clearly communicate the purpose and objectives, encourage active participation, manage time efficiently, handle disagreements effectively, and ensure there is a clear plan for next steps and follow-up actions.

How can technology aid in conducting effective meetings?

Technology can significantly aid in conducting effective meetings by allowing for remote participation, enabling visual presentations, recording and transcribing meetings for later reference, facilitating communications before, during, and after meetings, organizing polling or voting systems, and maintaining schedules and tracking action items.

Why is it important to follow-up after a meeting?

Following up after a meeting is crucial to ensure that the decisions made and actions agreed upon during the meeting are executed. This assists in accountability, maintaining momentum, and ensuring everyone is on the same page. Without effective follow-up, some of the benefits and objectives of the meeting could be lost.

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